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Representation in Ireland

Mobility in the EU: Frequently Asked Questions

Travelling in the European Union

As Ireland is not a party to the Schengen Agreement, Irish citizens must present a passport when entering other EU Member States. Similarly, all EU citizens entering Ireland will be required to present a passport or a valid national identity card.

Can a citizen of the European Union be restricted in his/her right to travel?

The right to travel to another Member State may be restricted only for reasons of public policy, public security or public health. Where a national of a Member State is refused entry to another Member State, the reasons for the decision refusing entry should be disclosed to him.  This was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the EU in the case of ZZ v Secretary of State for the Home Department C-300/11.

Can British citizens resident in Ireland travel to other EU Member States simply on presentation of their passports?

Holders of British passports who are not EU family members, irrespective of where they reside, can travel to any EU Member State for periods of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, simply on presentation of their passports.  British citizens should have at least six months’ validity left on their UK passports and the passport should be less than ten years old or they may not be permitted to enter the host State.

Are British family members of Irish citizens subject to the 90/180-day rule when travelling with their Irish citizen family member in the EU?

The 90/180-day rule does not apply to non-EU family members travelling in the EU with their EU relative according to the European Commission’s interpretation of the Schengen Border Code.  This means that British nationals who are family members of EU citizens and travelling with them are not subject to the 90-day rule.  

What can I do if my right to travel to another Member State or to a third country is restricted at the point of entry?

If you are an Irish citizen and your right to travel to another Member State or to a third country is restricted and you require advice or assistance, you should contact the Irish embassy or consulate in that country. If Ireland is not represented by an embassy or consulate, you have the right to seek assistance from the embassy or consulate of any of the twenty-six other Member States present in the country to which you seek entry. If you experience any difficulties in locating diplomatic or consular representation, you should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs.

If you are a citizen of another country, you should contact the Embassy or Consulate of your home State in the country you seek to enter.

Are there travel restrictions on non-EU family members of EU citizens?

Non-EU family members of EU citizens who are in possession of a residence card issued under Article 10, Directive 2004/38/EC and are travelling with or to join EU family members should be permitted to enter any EU Member State simply on presentation of their passport and a valid residence card, including a permanent residence card (Ryanair v Orzagos Rendor-fokapitanysag, Case, C-754/18) in lieu of a visa (Article 5 of Directive 2004/38/EC).

What about the non-EU family members of British citizens living in the UK?

Non-EU family members of British citizens living in the UK may require visas to enter any EU Member State, including Ireland.  

I am a French citizen married to a Thai national. We are living in Ireland.  We plan to travel to Poland for our holidays in September. Can you confirm what travel documentation we require in order to travel to Poland?

As a French citizen resident in Ireland, you can travel to Poland and to any other country of the EU simply on presentation of a valid passport or national identity card, if requested. In the case of your spouse, assuming that he is in possession of a residence card issued pursuant to Article 10, Directive 2004/38/EC, he is entitled to travel with you to Poland simply on presentation of his passport and residence card without having to obtain a visa.

Prior to travelling, you should ensure that you obtain your European Health Insurance Card and adequate travel insurance.

If the residence card held by the non-EU national is not one issued pursuant to Article 10, Directive 2004/38/EC, a visa may be required.  In these circumstances, if the non-EU national is travelling with or to join their EU family member, the visa should be granted without delay or charge or formality (Article 5, Directive 2004/38/EC).

Are national authorities willing to grant visas without formality or delay to partners of EU citizens?

Even where an EU citizen returns to his Member State of origin, e.g., an Irish national living in another EU Member State returning to Ireland with his non-EU partner, the national authorities must facilitate the entry and residence of that partner provided the couple can prove that they are in a durable relationship.  This was confirmed by the Court of Justice of the EU in the case of the Secretary of State for the Home Office v Rozanne Banger, C-89/17.

What are the travel rights of non-EU family members who have been issued with residence permits under domestic law rather than EU law?

Non-EU family members in possession of national residence permits issued pursuant to domestic Irish law and travelling from Ireland to other EU Member States will require valid visas to do so, even when travelling with the Irish family member.  Similarly, non-EU family members in possession of residence permits issued under the domestic law of other Member States will require a valid visa to enter Ireland.  If travelling with or to join their EU family member, the visa should issue without delay or formality or charge.

I am an Irish national married to a Chinese national.  We live in Ireland.  We are planning to travel to France next month.  Is it correct that my wife does not require a visa and that she can use her Irish residence stamp to travel in lieu of a visa? 

Since you are an Irish national living in Ireland, your wife has been granted residence in Ireland based on Irish law rather than EU law. You are not regarded as exercising EU Treaty rights by living or working in a country other than that of which you are a national (Article 3, Directive 2004/38/EC).  This means that your wife’s residence document is not one granted under EU law and she cannot use this document in lieu of a visa as would be the case if the document was granted under EU law.  However, when your wife applies for a visa to the Embassy of the country to which she intends to travel, the visa should be granted to her without charge or formality or delay if she is travelling with or to join you (Article 5, Directive 2004/38/EC).  She should only be required to present her passport and your marriage certificate and should not be required to provide evidence of financial independence or hotel reservations etc.

Driving in the EU

All new driving licences issued across the EU are in the form of a plastic "credit card," with a standard European format and tougher security protection.

Licences issued prior to January 2013 will be changed to the new format at the time of renewal or at the latest by 2033.

Will a driving licence issued in one Member State be recognised in other Member States?   I am an Irish citizen holding an Irish driving licence. I will get married later this year and plan to take up residence in Portugal with my Portuguese husband. Will I have to obtain a Portuguese driving licence when I move to Portugal or will the authorities there recognise my Irish licence? 

Directive 2006/126/EC provides for the mutual recognition of driving licences in the EU. Based on this Directive, provided it is valid in Ireland your Irish driving licence is valid in Portugal and should be recognised there. It is not necessary for you to obtain a Portuguese driving licence when you take up residence in Portugal.

However, the general rule is that if you hold a valid driving licence and take up "normal residence" in a Member State other than the one that issued the licence, the host Member State i.e., Portugal, may enter on the licence any information needed for administration purposes and may apply its national rules on:

  • the period of validity of the licence;
  • medical checks (same frequency as for nationals);
  • tax arrangements (connected with the holding of a licence);
  • penalties (e.g., a penalty-points licence);
  • restriction, suspension, withdrawal or cancellation of the licence.

I am an Irish national resident in Northern Ireland and am in possession of a driving licence from Northern Ireland.  I work across the border in Ireland.  Is my driving licence valid for driving in Ireland?

Your Northern Ireland driving licence permits you to drive in Ireland provided you remain resident in Northern Ireland.  Visitors to Ireland can drive on a driving licence from any State outside the EU/EEA for up to one year provided the driving licence is current and valid.

Is it necessary to obtain additional car insurance when travelling to another Member State?

Your car insurance policy will automatically provide, at no extra cost, the minimum cover (third party liability) required by law. This applies in all Member States as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

If you have comprehensive insurance at home, you should check that the cover extends to travelling in other countries. You may also have to consider vehicle breakdown insurance.

Is additional car insurance now required when driving a car from Ireland to Northern Ireland or Great Britain?

No additional car insurance is required for cars registered in Ireland driving in Northern Ireland or Great Britain.  Green Cards are not required for travel in the UK, including Northern Ireland, for Irish registered vehicles if you have a valid Irish insurance disc.

Where can I obtain further information on travelling in the EU? 

You can obtain further information on travelling in the EU here.

Public Documents in the EU

Following the coming into force of the Regulation on Public Documents in February 2019, Regulation 2016/1191/EU, the procedures for recognition of certain public documents have been simplified.  Citizens living in an EU country other than their own are often required to present a public document to the authorities of the EU country where they live. Such public documents include birth certificates or a criminal vetting document.

Prior to application of the Regulation, citizens presenting a public document in another EU country were often required to obtain an authenticity stamp (apostille) to prove that their public document was authentic. Citizens were often also required to present a certified copy and a translation of their public document.  The Regulation puts an end to a number of bureaucratic procedures:

  • Public documents (for example, a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, a judgment) and certified copies issued by the authorities of an EU country must be accepted as authentic by the authorities of another EU country without the need for an authenticity stamp (an apostille);
  • Citizens are no longer required to provide at the same time both an original public document and a certified copy. Where an EU country permits the presentation of a certified copy of a public document instead of the original, the authorities of that EU country must accept a certified copy from the EU country where the public document was issued;
  • Citizens are no longer required to provide a translation of their public document. If the public document is not in one of the official languages of the EU, citizens can ask for a multilingual standard form, available in all EU languages, from the authorities of the EU country which issued the public document. This form can be attached to the public document to avoid translation requirements. When a citizen presents a public document together with a multilingual standard form, the receiving authority can only require a translation of the public document in exceptional circumstances.
  • If the authorities of the host EU country require a certified translation of the public document presented by the citizen, they must accept a certified translation from any EU country.

Diplomatic and Consular Protection outside the EU

My son is currently holidaying in Cuba and then plans to travel in Argentina and Peru. What if something happens to him in one of these countries where there is no immediate Irish diplomatic or consular representation?

One of the benefits of EU citizenship is that if your son finds himself in difficulties in a third country where there is no Irish diplomatic or consular representation, he can seek assistance from any one of the diplomatic or consular representatives of any one of the twenty-six other EU Member States. They must accord him the same treatment as they would give to one of their own nationals. This is an important right for a national from a small country such as Ireland which does not have diplomatic or consular representation in every country in the world.

Cross-border Succession

Previously, the existence of different national rules made inheritances involving more than one EU country complex and costly. Regulation 650/2010/EU (the Succession Regulation) makes cross-border inheritance simpler by clarifying which EU country’s courts will have jurisdiction to deal with the inheritance and which law the courts will apply.  Under the Regulation, the courts of the EU country where the person usually lived at the time of their death will deal with the inheritance and will apply the law of that EU country.  Citizens can choose the law of their country of nationality to apply to their estate, whether it is an EU or a non-EU country. Judgments on inheritance given in one EU country will now be automatically recognised in other EU countries.   However, the Succession Regulation does not apply in Ireland or Denmark.  This means that although these countries are not subject to the provisions of the Succession Regulation, Irish and Danish citizens living in a Member State where the Succession Regulation applies can benefit from the rules in the Regulation.

I am an Irish citizen living in France.  I own a small property in France which I would like to leave to my eldest grandson.  Can I apply Irish law to ensure that my grandson successfully inherits the property?

Yes.  Under the Succession Regulation, you can choose Irish law as the law applicable to the succession of your French property.  If the succession is handled in France, the French authorities will apply Irish law to your entire estate.

It is however important that you formally choose Irish law as the applicable law in your will. Otherwise, French law will be applied to the succession of your entire estate if you are habitually resident in France at the time of your death.

Further Legal Advice on Your Rights

If you require legal advice on your rights in the EU, you may wish to contact the Your Europe Advice service. This is an EU advice service for the public. It consists of a team of 60 independent lawyers who cover all EU official languages and are familiar both with EU law and national laws in all EU countries. They will provide you with free and personalised advice in the language of your choice, within a week.  The response received, either by email or telephone as selected by you, will clarify the European law that applies in your case and explain how you can exercise your EU rights.